Friday, June 15, 2007

Blue Sky Alert-Europe (Paris)...


Welcome to the first Blue Sky Alert dealing with Disneyland's beautiful, younger, European sister...

Disneyland Paris Resort.

Having just opened two of it's three new attractions at the starting point of it's fifteenth anniversary, the Resort has seen a sizeable increase in attendance over the past year. In fact, the Disneyland Paris Resort could be on in for the best year of attendance it has ever had. For the first time in a half a decade things are looking up for this troubled Disney resort.

Despite having the financial woes that it does, EuroDisneyland, err... Disneyland Paris is still the number one vacation destination in Europe. Much to the consternation of the French that once branded it a "cultural Chernobyl". Many of the French have embraced it as their own and although there are still squabbles from time to time... it appears the future ahead could be quite bright indeed.

There have been rumors about an F1 racing competition being held at Disneyland or directly across from the Resort. My contacts haven't received any concrete word about this proposal and I'm suspect to believe that it's a ploy by Bernie Ecclestone to use as a bargaining chip for another venue. It would make an interesting event, but there is no solid information I can come up with at the moment to cooberate it.

As far as Disney Village is concerned there is a proposal to expand it beyond it's current boundaries, including a theater show venue and new shops and restaurants. These are said to corrispond and enhance future "additions" to the Resort. The plans are for expanding the Resort as a vacation destination that doesn't just rely on the parks.

There are no current plans for hotels, although there are designs for hotels that were intended to be build as a Phase Two of the original EuroDisney which could be pulled out of mothballs should the parks attendance keep rising. Presuming the "heads in beds" continue to rise, that is.

Currently there are no plans to add a third gate to the Resort. The current economic climate just isn't suitable for it. If the park maintains substantial growth over the next few years and the European economy doesn't take another downturn, I'm sure there will be proposals within WDI that will peak Bob Iger's interest, but all signs now look toward improving existing venues and not building a new park that would require massive amounts of capital. Again, as I've said before... this is a good thing because it means the Resort will be getting more immersive and better attractions. And that's saying alot for a Resort that includes the "most" beautiful Disneyland park. WDI's new leadership has mounted an aggressive overview of all new projects. These projects include the plans that Imagineers have been toying with for implementation at DLRP over the next decade. Good times could lie ahead...

Like I was saying, the "most" beautiful park has been "plussed" for the fifteenth anniversary and looks marvelous. Disneyland Paris hasn't really had a major addition in quite a while. While the proposals for DLP aren't as bold or expensive as the ones for Walt Disney Studios they are still exciting plans. Unlike WDSP though, there isn't as much needed to be done to the original European Disney park. There have been proposals for the addition of a new land but so far they haven't made it very far in the blue sky phase. The most probable proposal are the addition of a new "E" ticket attraction in one of the current lands. Adventureland and Tomorrowland both have proposals that involve major attractions, although it is likely only one will be approved. The current Pirate craze has also had it's effect on some of the proposals and could affect Adventureland should some of the enhancements be approved.

There are plans for adding between two and three "C" or "D" attractions throughout the park over the next decade which could make the final cut. It won't be for at least a year, possibly more before plans are approved and 2009 before any really see the light of day.

There are plans to "plus" several areas throughout the park, but being as DLP is already richly layered, it won't be as extensive as WDLP or DCA. Plans include additional restaurants and a new proposal for a night show has been mentioned but final plans are nowhere near complete. Time will tell what makes the final cut.

It's not known yet if Walt Disney Studios Paris will get a name change like whatever they rename it's bigger, Orlando sister. It's possible if the current line-up of proposals goes forward a new name could happen by it's tenth anniversary but that's a decision that won't happen for a while.

No decision will be made on WDSP expansion and one won't be made until the anniversary is over... that being said, if the clicks going into the park keep moving up we can expect the Studio to appear dramatically different on it's tenth anniversary. The expansion of WDSP into a full day park, from the current half-day park it is will most likely not be complete by 2012, but the atmosphere would be quite different. The expansion would likely continue into 2013, like the way the fifth's will continue into next year with Tower of Terror's opening.

Anyone that's seen pictures of the new additions will note the quality of the theming. The new Toon Studio area is a much needed "plussing" of a park that was built short on rides and theming. With the opening of TOT and it's surrounding area the WDSP will get a much needed boost in appearance when it comes to representing what Disney fans expect when they go past the turnstiles. The entrance areas are getting a modest improvement in terms of theming as well. So far, the move appears to be working. The Suits are pleasantly surprised at the attendance so far...

There are several proposals that are on the table right now. WDI's leadership is evaluating each and everyone, not as a way to find what to cut but what can be added or enhanced. The final plans for this expansion wouldn't happen for years to be truthful. One has only to look at DCA to see how plans change.

The most logical proposal to move forward is for the Studio Tram Tour to be moved back for the construction of a new "E" ticket attraction. It's likely to not come about till early 2010 or 2011. It's not known if it will be an update of the Great Movie Ride or one of several other projects. A couple of proposals involve a major Disney character and one proposal is an import from another Disney theme park. The evolving plans right now involve the addition of two "E" tickets and at least four to six "D" or "C" tickets by the time WDSP ends it's tenth anniversary sometime in 2013. Cross yer fingers that the good times keep rolling and the European economy doesn't tank.

One of the proposals for the "E" ticket is based on a major movie franchise and fits in with Lasseter and the new regime's philosophy in branding the future of the Studio with a more family friendly theme. The possible addition of a new land has also been proposed in the blue sky phase. The Studio will have a more enhanced theme if most of the proposals go forward. The evoking of a more "stylized" Hollywood will be implemented and layered "plussing" of the front entrance is also under consideration with a couple blue sky ideas involving the "Golden Era" of Tinsel Town.

All in all, Disney's park outside the City of Lights is in for a good future... so long as Disney's European fans continue to rush through the turnstiles. So buy your tickets now, and keep buying and buying and buying them... Disney executives are watching. WDI is planning some pretty amazing stuff that could see the light of day if the clicks keep going up.

That's it for this update. Stay tuned for future Blue Sky Alerts in July, so long as my paranoid contacts(read: Bothans) don't get fired...


Anonymous said...

Well, honestly, I expected a little more information, since you've been announcing this article for a long time now :-)
Anyway. The Magic Kingdom in Paris is absolutely beautifully designed. However, there are enough current rides, which could do with better theming and a lot of plussing. I am particularly thinking about the absolutely ugly final scene in Phantom Manor, which exists of mere cardboard decoration and cheap plastic-like puppets.
Furthermore, the Indiana Jones Temple of Peril has been improved, by adding a backward loop, but still it has a really meagre track ride, hardly if any theming and extremely low capacity. IMHO the beautiful theming of Space Mountain, which was first based on the journey to the moon by Jules Verne, was destroyed because it now somehow aims "beyond that" whatever that is.

Last year, I stayed at the Sequoia Lodge hotel and due to serious noise problems from the air conditioning we were kindly given a large suite with a view over the lake and the Festival Disney area. However, I won’t complain about the huge room, but the view was plain terrible. I come to a Disney theme park to have a well thought-through, perfectly designed experience. The absolute architectural mess, which the Festival Disney represents, contrasts with and destroys the beautiful setting of the hotels around the lake. It is a clutter of unattractive halls consisting of gleaming metal and concrete. This kind of industrial no-nonsense buildings can be seen everywhere in the real world. To me, this area would need major reconstruction and redesign to make it appealing and better looking.

Although I have visited the Magic Kingdom in Paris several times and even worked there as a cast member, I never felt the need for visiting its ugly stepsister, the Studios. Nevertheless I am very curious about the TOT and therefore thinking about going there when it opens next year. Apart from this attraction, there really is no other, which I find interesting. I sincerely hope Imagineering will succeed in creating a more appealing look for the park and come up with better attractions and more landscaping to justify an entrée-fee little below the one for the adjacent MK.
Keep up the good work!

Michiel Veenstra said...

I must admit that I too am a bit disappointed with this post. It's a bit more pointing out the obvious. I'd like to know more details about the attractions on the drawing board then just whether they are C, D, of E tickets. Surely, you'll know more than this...?

Unknown said...

Well...I hope that many Bothans won't need to die...

I enjoyed the article. I appreciate you adding the international flavor to Blue Sky Disney.

It is a good idea to remind people reading that there are more parks and responsibilities outside of Orlando.

Thanks, Honor! I really enjoyed the update about the Paris parks. We don't get out much in my neck of the woods!

Unknown said...

Nice surprise?

Free trip to ride the new Nemo subs at Disneyland?

Free cake?



Honor Hunter said...

Well guys,

The reason you had to wait wasn't because I was trying to build up suspense for the article. I had to wait to hear from my sources. And that's been really difficult lately.

I can't really name particular rides or anything because of the shake-up. It's affected everything... many of projects that have been proposed are getting a major review. MAJOR review. I want everything I write to have a little weight or credibility to it. I try not and be sensational and make up things like some sites do. That's why I always preface that things could change, "blue sky" means it's proposed... not built.

My intention is to have a another "Blue Sky Alert" up sometime in July. I want to wait till the dust has settled and find out what's going on over there in Glendale. Plus I have to hear from those Bothans!

Hehehe... See you later this week.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Disneyland will get a new ride over the next few years, but the focus will be on Walt Disney Studios as it is at the Disneyland Resort with DCA. Of the two, it definately needs it.

Thanks for the info. I realize that you can't tell us exact projects since that would pin down some of your sources and get them fired.

Looking forward to your next post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update honor hunter!

A lot of the plans for the European parks seem to be pretty vague for the moment as management is waiting for the final guest count that the anniversary and the new attractions brings in.

i was surprised though that you skipped a bit on the topic of the Village expansion... Euro Disney already announced its intention to build a massive new World of Disney departement store next to the Gaumont movie theatre... and then there's the second train station terminal which should be built right next to the WDS within the next few years.
Not to mention the new convention centre. Last thing I was told is that Disney is still sorting out how to finance the thing but everything should be in place to move forward by the end of the year. (Though this info is already a few months old...)

And then there is that planned cooperation between Euro Disney and the French travel company Pierre et Vacance to extend Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch and to build a huge new vacation village. Something that I'd describe as a second resort next to the first one. They should compliment each other nicely, though. Plus, it would give Euro Disney a bit of a chance to expand beyond the Disney brand... (which is costing them a lot of money...)
The local authorities and neighbouring towns now have to agree before construction of the so called "Villages de Nature" can begin. (Which would be located outside the current Disney resort...)

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Bring on the changes! I first went to WDSP when it was 2 months old.... we were finished by 4pm... at least the execs admitted (ironically on the eve of the grand opening) it was too small.

If the numbers carry on rising hopefully the first expansion will be more physical space; with Toon Studios the park is already running out of foot room - ToT will bring a traffic nightmare (I hope) - if only they`d have built a Sunset through the tram stop from the beginning for the Tower. Such a wasted opportunity. The Sunset weenie will have to be HUGE when it finally happens.

As for the Village... blame Eisner. We could have got a New Orleans themed entertainment area (based on the New Orleans Resort that`s still a car park North West of the Newport) but instead Eisner went with the `hip, edgey and forward thinking` modern mess. Believe the power station theming to link to the rail station if you will, but it was another missed opportunity. And to think they even removed the one redeeming feature... the star lights.

WDSP... you`ll be no MGM Europe, but you at least deserve to catch up to your elder neighbour.